Is the concept of the first screen “above the fold line” still relevant?

We skim through the text and scroll through endless content, does this mean that the need to post important content “Above the fold” disappeared? Or is it still relevant in 2019?

As someone who instinctively scrolls content, I agree with the statement Josh Porter:

“A scroll is a continuation, a mouse click is a solution”

Josh Porter

If this is the case, then there is no need to aggressively compress the content above the fold. Designers can indent large, use giant images without worrying about pushing some key elements below the fold.

Unless, of course, the fold is no longer a barrier …

I decided it was time to deal with this issue once and for all (mostly for myself).

Here’s what I found out:

Searching results:

  • According to Google (based on the latest research I could find): ads appearing above the fold, noticed 73% users, while the one below only 44%… Striking difference
  • According to Chitika, based on an analysis of more than 22 million impressions, ads placed above the fold receive on 44% more clicks than the one below.
  • A HubSpot study found that 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results.
  • A MarketingSherpa study (with eye tracking heatmaps) found that ads placed above the fold saw 60% users, while the ad below the fold was seen only by 25%

Hmm … theories aside, the numbers clearly show that the fold continues to be relevant.

But wait, it’s much more complicated as the search results show not only links:

  • 12% Google search queries include featured snippets (source).
  • Many search terms show before links video or images
  • And of course: advertising

As a result:

  • Users don’t click by 34.4% search results on desktop devices (source).
  • Users don’t click by 62.5% search results on mobile devices (source).

When it comes to search results, fold still has a big impact. Due to the evolution of Google search results, what used to be ranked 3rd or 4th and used to display above the fold has now dropped below it.

Web sites

The Nielsen Norman Group conducted 2 fold studies: one in 2010 year, and another in 2018 year.

  • In 2010 year 80% users’ browsing time was spent above the fold.
  • In 2018, this number changed dramatically to 57% (a source).

By the way, 74% of the time views was spent on the first two screens (first 2 pages of content), which means users scrolled a little but didn’t check the entire page.

74% of viewing time is spent on the first two screens

Their conclusion read:

People are scrolling vertically more than before, but new eye tracking data shows they still look more above the fold than below it.

Clicktale conducted a study based on 100,000 web page views and concluded that “The fold is still relevant”

They concluded that when the main page elements or main CTAs were below the fold, the page KPI dropped.

“If the most important content is not immediately visible, the likelihood that visitors will actively search for it is low.”

Another example explored the impact of cookie notifications popping a call-to-action button below the fold. This directly resulted in a 3% increase in bounce rates and a 4% decrease in CTA clicks.

App Store

I recently shared my own experiences and lessons learned from redesigning screenshots of our product page in the App Store.

In that article, I shared the process we went through by moving the key messages to the top of the first two screenshots.

We made these changes because obviously App Store visitors don’t scroll below the fold:

  • 60% visitors do not scroll past the fold of the product page (source: Storemaven).
  • Only 40% visitors flip through the first 2 screenshots (source: iOS App Templates).
  • Only 13% visitors scroll through the full list of app screenshots (source: AppAgent).
  • Less four% visitors click on screenshots to enlarge them (source: AppAgent).

As such, fold clearly plays an important role in how App Store visitors browse apps.

Given these statistics, we had to redesign our product page in the App Store, shortening and enlarging the text in the screenshots and placing a key message in the first two screenshots.
Read more about this here.

Is the concept of the first screen “above the fold line” still relevant?

Output

Yes, people are scrolling more than before, but the fold is still relevant, the content above the fold still plays a key role in attracting users or visitors.

Practical advice

Yes, people scroll much more than before, but the fold continues to have an impact.

Users decide whether to continue browsing the site based on what they see above the fold, and this content encourages them to scroll down the page.

Here’s what to place above the fold:

  1. Navigation and search elements
  2. Main visual element (image and logo)
  3. Main headings (main text, explanations) – designed to attract the attention of visitors and motivate them to further explore the page / application
  4. Call to action button
  5. Visual cues that there is more content under the fold (to encourage scrolling)
  6. For pages with infinite content (social media feed), the content should start above the fold.
  7. For a website or e-commerce app, be sure to show the following: specials, recent orders, and cart / checkout links
  8. For the product page, add price, rating and photo of the product (s)
Is the concept of the first screen “above the fold line” still relevant?
Make sure the call to action button is above the fold
Is the concept of the first screen “above the fold line” still relevant?
Make sure notifications and tooltips aren’t pushing your most important content below the fold
Is the concept of the first screen “above the fold line” still relevant?

Avoid the illusion of completeness by placing scrolling pointers above the fold

Author: Clark Douglas

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